Cherry Bomb: A Year With Less Pie

Climate change messes with cherry pie: now it’s personal.

madichan/Flickr

Every July since 1926, Traverse City, Mich., has hosted a national cherry festival. The event attracts tourists to the city, which in turn calls itself “The Cherry Capital of the World,” an epithet that might seem hyperbolic if Michigan didn’t grow nearly 75 percent of the nation’s tart cherries. Also known as sour or “pie cherries,” tart cherries are bright red fruit that are traditionally frozen and processed. Most sweet cherries, on the other hand, are eaten fresh and grown in Western states.

This year it’s looking unlikely that the Cherry Festival will feature any Michigan cherries. Two 80-degree weeks in March caused blossoms to bud early, before the Midwestern winter returned with its standard frosty, below-freezing temperatures. Though many growers are still a few weeks from knowing the full extent of the weather damage, they’re looking at what could be a total loss.

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The Climate Desk is a journalistic collaboration dedicated to exploring the impact—human, environmental, economic, political—of a changing climate. The partners are The Atlantic, Center for Investigative Reporting, Grist, The Guardian, Huffington Post, Mother Jones, Slate, and Wired.